Magic kitchen opens from basic beginnings

Michael Weaver 11 October 2019 41
The Basics outside the Magic Kitchen Vegan Cafe

Bringing the community together with food is the realisation of a dream for Sasha and Antonia Basic with their daughter Rossa outside the Magic Kitchen Vegan Cafe. Photos: Michelle Kroll, Region Media.

When Antonia and Sasha Basic arrived in Canberra from Croatia in 2014, they had $2000, four suitcases and no plans.

But today, 11 October, they realised a dream by opening the Magic Kitchen Vegan Cafe in Kingston.

Sasha, a qualified agronomist and organic agriculturist, and Antonia, who had worked in travel and tourism, decided to leave Croatia after growing up there and always struggling to find a sense of belonging.

“We didn’t have a clue about what we were going to do when we came here,” Sasha says while talking with Region Media. “There was no plan, just a decision to come to Australia.”

“In Croatia, we were raised during wars, so as kids we were always looking for a sense of belonging,” says Antonia. “So when we came here, it was the same process of again trying to find that sense of belonging.”

Sasha began labouring and Antonia worked as a waitress in a Croatian restaurant, but Sasha soon found his fingers were better placed in the dirt rather than in cement on building sites.

From their modest home in Hackett, they began growing their own produce, and a community soon showed its first signs of life. They connected with their neighbours who supported them by giving them compost and old seeds to grow.

Antonia and Sasha grew organic produce from their backyard, where all available space was used for sustainable living and their ongoing food story. Antonia turned their food into magic cauldrons of healthy meals suitable for all dietary needs.

With their produce, they began the Canberra Magic Kitchen.

“We remember our first deliveries in Hackett a few years ago when we delivered stews with a bicycle and kid’s trailer,” says Sasha.

Everything was recycled, from making their own compost to the use of boxes and pallets for seedlings. Their food was seasonal and fresh, and they also held workshops promoting sustainable and communal living.

More gardeners joined their growing community and contributed to a market stall held at the front of their Hackett home every Saturday morning. They built the stall from recycled materials and local musicians played as they sold their produce along with homemade crepes, crackers and dips.

Canberra Magic Kitchen dishes then began appearing in select food shops at Ainslie and Kingston.

The Basics and the garden outside the cafe

Antonia, Sasha and Rossa with the garden they planted outside their new cafe in Kingston.

Sasha also keeps a diary and meditates daily. He recalls coming home after two years of working on construction sites and said he’d had enough.

After three weeks of almost constant meditation, their vision appeared. Sasha knew it was going to involve food. He meditated some more. The food had to be vegan. It had to be a restaurant or cafe.

“I had applied for jobs at the CSIRO and the Arboretum and thank god, I didn’t get those jobs,” says Sasha.

“It wasn’t all about money, it was about pursuing our dreams,” says Antonia.

Their next hurdle came when Antonia and Sasha had to move out of their Hackett home, but this also became a blessing in disguise.

They were offered a residence in the new Kingsborough Village in Kingston. It happened to have a vacant shop space below. It also had some space to plant a little garden, and with the first signs of kale, their magic kitchen grew further.

Sasha soon found his hands back in construction, but this time it was building the next iteration of the Magic Kitchen.

To start, they will serve organic coffee, a range of organic chai and teas, cold-pressed juices, cakes and sweets, as well as some new savoury dishes. All food and beverages are 100 per cent plant-based with gluten-free options.

Their lunch menu will vary daily as their new business continues to evolve. One thing that won’t change is their passion to produce food for their community.

“We like to be surrounded by people and we like to make people happy, to bring them together and bring good vibes,” says Antonia.

“The easiest thing for me is to open myself to the world and bring the community together and that’s where I feel like I belong.”

Sasha says when food tells a story, it is always appreciated and that when a meal is eaten, it is by no means the end.

“When we arrived here with $2000, we needed to be creative and we needed to be brave to be able to survive and support our family. But I never had a doubt,” he says.

The Magic Kitchen Vegan Cafe in Kingsborough Village is accessible from Parberry or Dawes Street. It will open Monday to Friday from 7:00 am to 2:00 pm and from 8:00 am to 2:00 pm on weekends.

The Canberra Magic Kitchen is also on Facebook.

All food is plant based

All of their food and beverages are 100 per cent plant-based with gluten-free options.

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41 Responses to Magic kitchen opens from basic beginnings
Elizabeth Easton Elizabeth Easton 10:43 pm 16 Oct 19

Erica Riley sounds like a new place for you to try next time your visiting Canberra xx

Kylie Best Kylie Best 10:17 pm 13 Oct 19

Tracey Paterson have you guys seen this ?

Tracey Mateer Tracey Mateer 5:27 pm 13 Oct 19

Sophie Mateer look forward to taking you to try it out when you come home 🥰

Judanne Young Judanne Young 8:20 pm 12 Oct 19

The food is divine! ❤️❤️

Lucy Baker Lucy Baker 8:18 pm 12 Oct 19

Fingers crossed that the coffee is good!

Helen Lowe Helen Lowe 5:29 pm 12 Oct 19

Hope you reap the rewards for your hard work . Good luck. 🍽

Joan Brearley Joan Brearley 2:29 pm 12 Oct 19

What a beautiful story. Will be visiting for coffee morning or lunch soon food sounds delicious.

Ntoritsa Vass Ntoritsa Vass 1:07 pm 12 Oct 19


Kel Ly Kel Ly 11:51 am 12 Oct 19

Congratulations! Dreams really can come true ❤️

Sophia-Antonia Hartl Sophia-Antonia Hartl 11:25 am 12 Oct 19

Matt Eikenhout Let’s check this out 💓

Claire Stephens Claire Stephens 10:16 am 12 Oct 19

Adi Prigan you can come back now please x

Lindsay Rose Lindsay Rose 9:20 am 12 Oct 19

Kate Bliss Come home! I'm taking you for lunch :)

Ann-Maree Bortoli Ann-Maree Bortoli 8:58 am 12 Oct 19

Antonia and Sasha are awesome people and the food Antonia makes is absolutely delicious. Wishing you both every success in your new venture! Will visit soon.

Jyoti Dambiec Jyoti Dambiec 8:05 am 12 Oct 19

How exciting. Great story. Warm, open, courageous and friendly people and delicious food. Let’s support them! 💜

Tessa Power Tessa Power 8:01 am 12 Oct 19

Jeremy Withnall vegan cafe!

Phyllis Hynes Phyllis Hynes 6:45 am 12 Oct 19

Caitlin Priest This looks like a great place. Carl Hynes we have got to eat here, what a wonderful story 💖

Beata Georgina Wilder Beata Georgina Wilder 5:56 am 12 Oct 19

Congratulations xxx

Tanya Faye Fuller Tanya Faye Fuller 12:36 am 12 Oct 19

Allison Tomazin I’ll take you here when you come visit me one day

Barbara Boswell Barbara Boswell 11:04 pm 11 Oct 19

Know someone who will use that.

Linda Nicholson Linda Nicholson 10:41 pm 11 Oct 19

Fantastic and congratulations to the family!!

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